Vegetarian Moussaka

Photography by Tara Fisher

This was a recipe that my step mother Wendy inspired me to make, as she is the queen of the moussaka! This veggie version is very easy and can be prepared ahead and frozen.

Serves 4-6
4 tbsp olive oil
1 med aubergine, cut into 1cm slices
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large courgette, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
splash red wine (optional)
700ml jar passata with garlic and herbs
2 pinches caster sugar
1 x 400g tin green lentils, rinsed and drained
400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
For the sauce:
300ml milk
50g butter
50g plain flour
a good grating of nutmeg
250g pot ricotta cheese
75g cheddar, grated

1.Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry as many of the aubergine slices as you can fit, on both sides, until browned and beginning to soften.
2. Transfer to a plate with kitchen paper whilst you fry the rest, adding extra oil as needed. Set the aubergines to one side while you make the vegetable and lentil sauce.
3. Fry the onion in a tbsp oil for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped courgette and pepper and gently fry for 6-8 minutes, adding the garlic 2 minutes before the end, until beginning to soften.
4. Stir in the cinnamon and tomato puree and cook for a minute or so before adding the red wine of using, and after a minute or two, the passata.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the lentils and a pinch or two of sugar and plenty of seasoning. Stir and taste for extra seasoning if needed.
6. Meanwhile par-boil the potato slices in salted water for about 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften.
7. Leave to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
8. Put the flour, butter and milk into a pan and whisk over a medium heat. When thickened, season with salt, pepper and some grated nutmeg and leave to cool for five minutes, before whisking in the ricotta.
9. Pour half of the vegetable sauce into the base of a deep round casserole.
11. Top with the potato slices in one layer, then spread over half of the ricotta sauce.
12. Top with half the aubergines, in one layer then the remaining vegetable sauce, then aubergine, then the last of the cheese sauce.
13. Top with the grated cheese.
14. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 200c/180 fan/gas mark 6.
15. Bake for 50 minutes or until piping hot and bubbling.

This recipe can be found in The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook.